Japanese encephalitis virus is a nationally notifiable disease which means if you suspect an animal is showing signs of the disease, you must report it.
You can do this by contacting your local veterinarian or call the national Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. This will put you in touch with your state or territory’s agriculture department.
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a viral zoonotic disease spread by mosquitoes. JEV can cause reproductive losses and encephalitis in pigs and horses, and in rare cases can cause disease in humans.
Australia experienced an outbreak of JEV in domestic pigs in 2022, with detections in over 80 piggeries in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Prior to this, JEV was thought to be limited to seasonal transmission in the Torres Strait Islands and (occasionally) Far North Queensland.
JEV has been detected in samples collected from feral pigs in the Northern Territory, South Australia, North Queensland and northern Western Australia.
Given the broad geographical distribution of detections, JEV is now considered to be established on the Australian mainland, although the risks in any given area are likely to vary seasonally and between years depending on weather and other local factors.
Regardless of your location, it’s important to protect yourself and your animals from mosquito bites. This includes people in the southern states.
Information on reducing risks to people is available from the Department of Health and Aged Care.
Japanese encephalitis is not a food safety concern and commercially produced pork meat or products are safe to consume.
In this video Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s recently retired Chief Veterinary Officer, discusses the key information about Japanese encephalitis virus, including its impacts on our life, economy and measures to stay safe from JEV.
Japanese encephalitis virus is a disease that’s spread by mosquitoes and can infect waterbirds, pigs, horses and on rare occasions, humans.
The virus has been detected in Australia in piggeries across several states, including Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
It is important to know, that Japanese encephalitis is not a food safety concern and commercially produced pork products are safe to eat.
In pigs, the virus can cause reproductive losses, paralysis and wasting disease in piglets.
In horses and people, it can cause encephalitis or swelling of the brain.
Animals and people can only become infected through the bite of a mosquito that is carrying the virus, and the virus doesn’t spread directly between animals and people.
To stop the spread of Japanese encephalitis virus, the most important action to protect people and animals against the mosquito bites is to apply insecticides.
Blankets and covers on horses are also a good deterrent.
People who live or work near river systems should be vigilant, particularly piggery workers.
And we’re also monitoring whether the feral pig population is contributing to the outbreak.
Human vaccines are available and are prioritised for people working in the pig industry.
And while vaccines haven’t yet been approved for pigs in Australia, they’re available for horses to meet export requirements.
If you suspect your animal is showing signs of Japanese encephalitis virus, you must report it.
You can do this by contacting your local veterinarian or simply call the national Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
For the latest information or to report an outbreak, please visit the Australian Government website: outbreak.gov.au
In 2022, Japanese encephalitis virus was detected in eastern and southern parts of Australia.
Mosquitoes carry the virus from infected waterbirds.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes and can infect pigs.
A mosquito infected with the virus can transmit it to a pig through its bite.
Japanese encephalitis can cause stillborn or weak piglets and deformities in piglets up to six months old.
It can also cause infertility in boars.
Once a pig has Japanese encephalitis, it can transmit the virus to other mosquitoes and those mosquitoes can pass it on to more pigs.
Pigs cannot pass the virus to humans or other animals.
Only an infected mosquito can transmit the virus to a person.
But humans are known as “dead end” hosts and cannot transmit the virus back to mosquitoes, other people, or animals.
Horses are also “dead end” hosts and cannot pass the virus on to mosquitoes, people, or other animals.
Find out more about the symptoms of Japanese encephalitis and how to keep mosquitoes under control on your property.